Shaun of the Dead

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Shaun of the Dead
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Edgar Wright
Produced by Nira Park
Written by
Music by
  • Pete Woodhead
  • Daniel Mudford
Cinematography David M. Dunlap
Edited by Chris Dickens
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 29 March 2004 (2004-03-29) (London premiere)
  • 9 April 2004 (2004-04-09) (United Kingdom)
  • 24 September 2004 (2004-09-24) (United States)
  • 27 July 2005 (2005-07-27) (France)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • United States[2][3]
Language English
Budget $6 million[4]
Box office $30 million[5]

Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 British horror comedy film directed by Edgar Wright and written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. Pegg plays Shaun, a man attempting to get some kind of focus in his life as he deals with his girlfriend, his mother and stepfather.[6] At the same time, he has to cope with an apocalyptic uprising of zombies.[7]

The film was a critical and commercial success in the UK and the US. It received a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 76 out of 100 at Metacritic. Shaun of the Dead was also a BAFTA nominee. Pegg and Wright considered a sequel that would replace zombies with another monster, but decided against it as they were pleased with the first film as a stand-alone product, and thought too many characters died to continue the story.[8]

The film is the first in Wright and Pegg's Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, followed by 2007's Hot Fuzz and 2013's The World's End.[9]


Shaun (Simon Pegg) is an electronics shop employee with no direction in life. His younger colleagues show him no respect, he has an estranged relationship with his stepfather, Phillip (Bill Nighy), and a tense one with his housemate, Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), because of Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun's other housemate and vulgar, unemployed best friend. Furthermore, Shaun's girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), dislikes their social life, as they primarily spend every evening at the Winchester, Shaun and Ed's favourite pub; they never do anything alone together; Shaun always brings Ed, causing Liz to always bring her flatmates, David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis).

After a bad day at work, Shaun meets an old friend, Yvonne (Jessica Hynes), who asks what he and Liz are doing for their anniversary; having forgotten to book a table at Liz's favourite restaurant, Shaun suggests the Winchester, leading Liz to break up with him. Shaun drowns his sorrows with Ed at the Winchester. They return home late and spin electro records, only to be interrupted by an enraged Pete, who is suffering a headache after being attacked and bitten by "some crackheads." Pete confronts Shaun on his flaws, telling him to sort his life out.

The next morning, an overnight zombie apocalypse has overwhelmed the town, but Shaun is too busy dealing with his problems and hangover to notice. He and Ed discover a zombie woman in their back yard, but assume she is just drunk, until she survives being impaled on a pipe. A fat zombie man also makes his way into the garden. Shaun and Ed flee inside, and learn from a news report the only way to kill a zombie is "by removing the head or destroying the brain". First fighting back with random objects and Shaun's records, Shaun and Ed arm themselves with a cricket bat and a shovel after breaking into their own locked shed. They kill the two zombies in the yard and by a process of elimination decide the safest place to wait out the crisis is the Winchester.

Shaun discovers a now zombified Pete in the shower, so he and Ed escape in Pete's car. They find Shaun's mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton) and Phillip - who has been bitten - and switch cars after Ed deliberately crashes Pete's car in order to drive Phillip's Jaguar. They head over to Liz, Dianne, and David's flat and collect them. Before they make it to the Winchester, Phillip dies of his bite, after making peace with Shaun. Abandoning the car as Phillip zombifies, they set off on foot, bumping into Yvonne and her group of survivors. Imitating the zombies, they sneak over to the pub; however, Ed and Shaun get into an argument that alerts the zombies. David breaks the window while Shaun leads the zombies away. The five take refuge in the pub, and Shaun joins them after losing the zombies.

Several hours later, zombies converge on the pub. Shaun discovers the Winchester rifle above the bar is functional and they use it to fend off the zombies. Barbara reveals she was bitten along the way and dies, becomes a zombie, and after David antagonizes the situation, resulting in a mexican standoff, the distraught Shaun is forced to shoot Barbara. David is disemboweled and dismembered by the zombies after he attempts to shoot Shaun with the empty rifle; causing a frantic Dianne to unbolt the door to rescue him, disappearing into the crowd of zombies. Ed prepares a Molotov cocktail to fend them off, but Pete arrives and bites him. He manages to get over the bar and Shaun uses the cocktail to set fire to the bar, accidentally setting off the remaining rifle ammunition. They escape into the cellar, in which they contemplate suicide, but discover a service hatch to ground level. Shaun and Liz escape through the hatch as Ed stays behind with the rifle. Back on the street, as Shaun and Liz prepare to fight the zombies, the British Army arrives and guns down the remaining zombies, rescuing them. Yvonne, who has also survived, shows up and tells Shaun and Liz to follow her. They approach the safety of the trucks, reconciled.

Six months after the outbreak, the uninfected have returned to daily life, while the leftover zombies, retaining their instincts, are used as cheap labour and entertainment. Liz has moved in with Shaun, and Shaun is keeping Ed, now a zombie, tethered in the shed while playing video games.



The film is notable for Wright's kinetic directing style, and its references to other movies, television series and video games. In this way, it is similar to the British sitcom Spaced, which both Pegg and Wright worked on in similar roles.

The film was inspired by the Spaced episode "Art", written by Pegg (along with his writing partner and co-star Jessica Stevenson) and directed by Wright, in which the character of Tim (Pegg), under the influence of amphetamine and the video game Resident Evil 2, hallucinates that he is fighting off a zombie invasion. Having discovered a mutual appreciation for Romero's Dead trilogy, they decided to write their own zombie movie. Spaced was to be a big influence on the making of Shaun, as it was directed by Wright in a similar style, and featured many of the same cast and crew in minor and major roles. Nick Frost who played Mike in Spaced has a starring role in Shaun as Ed. Peter Serafinowicz and Julia Deakin – who played Duane Benzie and Marsha in Spaced – appear in Shaun as Pete and Yvonne's mum, and Pegg's Spaced co-star Jessica Stevenson plays Yvonne.

The film's cast features a number of British comedians, comic actors, and sitcom stars, most prominently from Spaced, Black Books and The Office. Shaun also co-stars Dylan Moran, who played Bernard Black in Black Books, Martin Freeman (Tim Canterbury in The Office), Tamsin Greig (Fran in Black Books, Caroline in Green Wing), Julia Deakin (Marsha in Spaced), Reece Shearsmith (Dexter in Spaced and a member of The League of Gentlemen) and Matt Lucas (writer/co-star of Little Britain). In addition, the voices of Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen) and Julia Davis (Nighty Night) can be heard as radio news presenters, as can David Walliams (Little Britain) who provides the voice of an unseen TV reporter. Trisha Goddard also makes a cameo appearance, hosting a fictionalised episode of her real-life talk show Trisha. Many other comics and comic actors appear in cameos as zombies, including Rob Brydon, Paul Putner, Pamela Kempthorne (Morticia de'Ath in The Vampires of Bloody Island), Joe Cornish, Antonia Campbell-Hughes (from the Jack Dee sitcom Lead Balloon), Mark Donovan (Black Books) and Michael Smiley (Tyres in Spaced). Coldplay members Chris Martin (who contributed to the soundtrack by guest singing the cover of Buzzcocks' "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" with Ash) and Jonny Buckland also cameo as zombies in the film.[10]

The film was shot over nine weeks between May and July 2003.[11][12]


The production was filmed entirely in London, on location and at Ealing Studios, and involved production companies Working Title Films and StudioCanal. Many exterior shots were filmed in and around the North London areas of Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Finsbury Park and East Finchley. Zombie extras were mainly local residents or fans of Spaced who responded to a casting call organised through a fan website.

Shaun's place of work is an actual electrical appliances shop located at Tally Ho, North Finchley.

The scenes filmed in and around the "Winchester Tavern" pub were shot at the "Duke of Albany" pub, 39 Monson Road New Cross, South London - a three-story Victorian pub. It was turned into flats in 2008.[13]


Box office[edit]

In the United Kingdom, Shaun took £1.6 million at 366 cinemas on its opening weekend[14] and netted £6.4 million by mid-May. In its opening weekend in the United States, Shaun earned $3.3 million, taking seventh place at the box office despite a limited release to only 607 theatres.[5] The film has earned $30,039,392 worldwide in box office receipts since its release.[5]

Critical response[edit]

Shaun of the Dead received critical acclaim, with the film receiving a score of 92% on aggregation review website Rotten Tomatoes based on 201 reviews[15] and a score of 76 out of 100 at Metacritic which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[16] Nev Pierce, reviewing the film for the BBC, called it a "side-splitting, head-smashing, gloriously gory horror comedy" that will "amuse casual viewers and delight genre fans."[17] Peter Bradshaw gave it four stars out of five, saying it "boasts a script crammed with real gags" and is "pacily directed [and] nicely acted."[18]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2004, Total Film magazine named Shaun of the Dead the 49th greatest British film of all time. In 2005, it was rated as the third greatest comedy film of all time in a Channel 4 poll.[19] Horror novelist Stephen King described the movie as "...a '10' on the fun meter and destined to be a cult classic."[20] In 2007, Stylus Magazine named it the ninth-greatest zombie film ever made.[21] In 2007, Time named it one of the 25 best horror films, calling the film "spooky, silly and smart-smart-smart" and complimenting its director: "Wright, who'd be a director to watch in any genre, plays world-class games with the camera and the viewer's expectations of what's supposed to happen in a scare film."[22] Bloody Disgusting ranked the film second in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article saying "Shaun of the Dead isn't just the best horror-comedy of the decade – it's quite possibly the best horror-comedy ever made."[23] In December 2009, Now Magazine deemed Shaun of the Dead the best film of the decade.[24]

George A. Romero was so impressed with Pegg and Wright's work that he asked them to appear in cameo roles in the 2005 film Land of the Dead. Pegg and Wright insisted on being zombies rather than the slightly more noticeable roles that were originally offered.[7][25] Pegg and Frost reprised their roles (animated style) in the Phineas and Ferb Halloween special "Night of the Living Pharmacists" in October 2014.[26]

Quentin Tarantino dubbed the film as one of his top twenty films made since 1992.[27]

In March 2011, the film was voted by BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra listeners as their second favourite film of all time. Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption came in first place.[28]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD shortly after its theatrical run in the US, with a DVD release around December 2004 in the US. Features included several audio commentaries, EPK featurettes about the film's production, pre-production video diaries and concept videos, photo galleries, bloopers, and more. The film also saw release on the HD DVD format in July 2007, with a Blu-ray Disc release following in September 2009.


In 2006, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association announced that it would be producing action figures based on the film as part of its "Cult Classics" line that features fan favourite characters from various genre films. The releases so far are:[citation needed]

  • 12" Shaun with sound
  • 7" Shaun, which was released in Cult Classics series 4. The sculpt was based on the 12" figure.
  • "Winchester" two-pack, featuring 7" versions of Ed and a bloodied-up Shaun with the Winchester rifle.
  • Zombie Ed, which is a re-deco of the "Winchester" Ed, to be released in Cult Classics: Hall of Fame.

Upper Deck Entertainment released a card for the popular World of Warcraft in 2007,an ally named "Shawn of the Dead", with the power of bringing back allies from the enemy graveyard.[29]

Cultural references[edit]

Prominent are many references to George A. Romero's earlier Dead films (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead,[7] with Dawn in particular being referenced).[30]

Films influenced by Shaun of the Dead[edit]

The 2010 Cuban film Juan of the Dead[31] and the 2013 Singaporean film Hsien of the Dead[32] were inspired by Shaun of the Dead.


Shaun of the Dead: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released 12 April 2004 (2004-04-12)
Genre Rock
Alternative rock
Label Universal International
Edgar Wright film soundtrack chronology
Shaun of the Dead
Hot Fuzz

The film's score by Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford is a pastiche of Italian zombie film soundtracks by artists like Goblin and Fabio Frizzi. It also uses many musical cues from the original Dawn of the Dead that were originally culled by George A. Romero from the De Wolfe production music library.[33]

On the soundtrack album, dialogue from the film is embedded within the music tracks.

  1. "Figment" – S. Park
  2. "The Blue Wrath" – I Monster
  3. "Mister Mental" – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
  4. "Meltdown" – Ash
  5. "Don't Stop Me Now" – Queen
  6. "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Melle Mel
  7. "Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don't Stop)" – Man Parrish
  8. "Zombie Creeping Flesh" – Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford
  9. "Kernkraft 400" – Zombie Nation
  10. "Fizzy Legs" – Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford
  11. "Soft" – Lemon Jelly
  12. "Death Bivouac" – Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford
  13. "The Gonk (Kid Koala Remix)" – The Noveltones
  14. "Envy the Dead" – Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford
  15. "Ghost Town" – The Specials
  16. "Blood in Three Flavours" – Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford
  17. "Panic" – The Smiths
  18. "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" (originally by Buzzcocks) – Ash featuring Chris Martin
  19. "You're My Best Friend" – Queen
  20. "You've Got Red on You / Shaun of the Dead Suite" – Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford
  21. "Normality" – Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford
  22. "Fundead" – Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford
  23. "Orpheus" – Ash

Comic strip[edit]

Pegg and Wright also scripted a one-off tie-in comic strip for the British comic magazine 2000AD titled "There's Something About Mary".[34]

Set the day before the zombie outbreak, the strip follows and expands on the character of Mary, who appears briefly in the introductory credits, and is the first zombie whom Shaun and Ed are aware of, and details how she became a zombie. It features expanded appearances from many of the minor or background characters who appear in the film. The strip was made available on the DVD release of Shaun, along with two other strips that wrapped up "Plot Holes" in the film, like how Dianne escaped and survived the Winchester incident, and Ed's fate after taking refuge in the basement of the bar.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SHAUN OF THE DEAD (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 26 March 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Lumiere : Film : Shaun of the Dead". European Audiovisual Observatory. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Shaun of the Dead (2004)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Andrew Collins. "Simon Pegg: The World’s End is $4 million shy of double what Hot Fuzz cost". RadioTimes. 
  5. ^ a b c "SOTD at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2 November 2009. 
  6. ^ "'Shaun of the Dead': Lively Zombie Comedy". 
  7. ^ a b c J.C. Maçek III (15 June 2012). "The Zombification Family Tree: Legacy of the Living Dead". PopMatters. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Interview with Simon Pegg". BBC Website. 1 October 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  10. ^ Slender Fungus (13 November 2008). "Coldplay Official Site: The Oracle Knows Everything". Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "SHAUN OF THE DEAD wraps". 
  12. ^ "EAT MY BRAINS! - Shaun of the Dead on-set photos - Feature Article". 
  13. ^ Kimberley Dadds. "The "Shaun Of The Dead" Guide To London". BuzzFeed. 
  14. ^ "SOTD UK figures at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2 November 2009. 
  15. ^ "Shaun of the Dead (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 April 2007. 
  16. ^ "Shaun of the Dead". Retrieved 16 April 2007. 
  17. ^ Nev Pierce (7 April 2004). "Shaun of the Dead (2004)". BBC. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  18. ^ Peter Bradshaw (9 April 2004). "Shaun of the Dead". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  19. ^ "50 Greatest Comedy Films". Channel 4. Retrieved 16 April 2007. 
  20. ^ ""Shaun of the Dead" DVD News". Rebecca Murray. Retrieved 14 July 2007. 
  21. ^ "Stylus Magazine’s Top 10 Zombie Films of All Time". Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  22. ^ "Shaun of the Dead, 2004". Time. 29 October 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  23. ^ "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 4". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  24. ^ Norman Wilner. "Top 10 films". NOW. 
  25. ^ "Simon Pegg interviews George A Romero". TimeOut. 
  26. ^ "Shawn of the Dead characters appearing in Phineas and Ferb". IGN. 
  27. ^ "Tarantino Reveals His Top 20 Movies (Since Reservoir Dogs)". Screen Rant. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  28. ^ "Radio 1 Movies Blog". BBC. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  29. ^ "Shawn of the Dead Card Preview". Archived from the original on 16 July 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  30. ^ "Shaun of the Dead Pop Culture References". Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  31. ^ Juan of the Dead (Juan de los Muertos): Toronto Review, Hollywood Reporter, 15 September 2011, John DeFore.
  32. ^ Robert, Catherine (11 August 2012). "Zombie film cast had a blast". 
  33. ^ Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg commentary, Shaun of the Dead (DVD). Universal Pictures
  34. ^ Shaun of the Dead: "There's Something About Mary" (by Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, and Frazer Irving, in 2000 AD #1384, 2004

External links[edit]